There’s always been something of a tug-a-war when it comes to vitamins. Some people claim they are miracle pills while others say they are nothing more than placebos. The premise of vitamins is appealing – after all, it’s difficult to get all the nutrients you need in a day, and the idea that one small pill can solve that problem is a great idea. However, recent studies have questioned the effect of vitamins, so if you are part of the 50% of Americans currently taking a supplement, you might want to do some research.
Multivitamins are the most commonly used vitamin, and a lot of research has shown some brands to be ineffective—at least in preventing major diseases of a chronic nature in healthy patients. According to a recent study that was published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the all-in-one pills didn’t do anything to prevent heart attacks, cancer or strokes in post-menopausal women. The question though, is whether vitamins are supposed to do these things or just increase your everyday health.
While that study focused on overall multivitamins, some tests for individual vitamins haven’t done a whole letter better in comparison. A 2006 study focused on the prevention of chronic disease with vitamins, and the report came back that supplements (whether taken singly or in some form of a combination) do not provide many health benefits.
Some vitamins have even been reported to cause harm and contribute to the risk of heart disease and strokes. A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2007 found that some of the more risky vitamins can increase the risk of death, which makes it very important for individuals to choose their vitamin supplements wisely.
The vitamin business is a $25 billion industry, with sales rising every year. Though there are some troubling reports, doctors still often recommend vitamins as part of a general health routine. Why? Because taken wisely, vitamins can still be effective.
First, there is the psychological power that comes from taking a vitamin supplement. Many people have reported better health and feelings of well being because of taking a vitamin. There is no prescription required, and for many people who do not get their daily dose of vitamins (which is many Americans, if not most), then supplements can go a long way towards bridging that gap. The placebo effect of vitamins was demonstrated in a 2008 study that showed how doctors were still recommending them for their powers of positive expectations.
There are some like Garden of Life vitamins that are worth taking, however, since they do more than just act as a placebo. The Office of Dietary Supplements at the NIH actually recommends certain vitamins for special circumstances. For example, they determined that pregnant women should take folate, postmenopausal women should get calcium and vitamin D and anyone who has a sort of muscular degeneration due to age or an eye disease should consume zinc and antioxidants. If you are part of the 50% of Americans who takes a vitamin, consider your reasons and make sure you find a brand you can trust to provide you with the benefits you are seeking.